Does God Mean What He Says?


I read another article on what the author characterized as the Bell/Piper divide, referring to the ideas set forth in Rob Bell’s promotional video for his book Love Wins and John Piper’s Twitter response. The author’s conclusion was that the debate which centers on heaven, hell, and who is saved, depends on hermeneutics, or how one goes about interpreting the Bible.

Probably so.

I’ll admit, it’s not my field. I took a look at the article about this discipline the blogger referred to, and quickly felt overwhelmed. It seems our understanding of the Bible depends on our philosophical outlook, our cultural background, and the ideologies we embrace.

Really?

How does faith like that of a child which Jesus referred to, fit in with hermeneutics?

Is the Bible too hard for the average person to grasp, or is its meaning ever changing because it is part of a “living tradition,” one that “is fundamentally a matter of perceiving a moving horizon, engaging a strand of dialogue that is an on-going re-articulation of the dynamically historical nature of all human thought.”

Perhaps all human thought is moving and changing, but God’s thoughts are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Or so He says about Himself in the Bible. Did He mean it?

As I look at this issue, it seems to me we may believe either that the Bible did indeed come from the inspiration of God’s Spirit and reveals what He wants Mankind to know about His person, His plan, and His work in the world, or we can believe the Bible is a book many authors wrote about their perceived experiences with God.

The latter is open to much interpretation. Some portions of it might be myth or conjecture. And what we do with what the Bible says is determined in part by how it impacts each individual.

The former establishes the Bible as the authoritative source to which we can go when we want to know about things like heaven, hell, and who can be saved.

But here’s the thing we must not lose sight of. If God wrote it, He wrote it all. We can’t isolate verses and camp on them as the One Truth by which we live. I’ve seen people do that. Last year I wrangled with another blogger because he believed his Christianity called him to ridicule false teachers. Not love his neighbor or his enemy or treat all men with gentleness—none of the things Jesus commanded His followers to do. Somehow he rationalized away his disregard for those scriptures and focused on just that One Thing.

I’ve seen other take a handful of verses and explain away any contradictions, thus formulating a doctrine that a plain reading of Scripture can’t sustain.

Did God mean what He said, or did He speak in code or perhaps symbology, so that “narrow way” actually means “broad” and “separate” actually means “unite”? Perhaps “accursed ones” mean “beautiful children” and “eternal fire” means “everlasting bliss.”

Or did Jesus really mean what He said:

Then [the King] will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels … These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
– Matt. 25:41, 46

Published in: on March 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm  Comments (7)  
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